Profile: Denzel R. Washington, Assistant Manager, Omnichannel Customer Marketing – Walmart, General Mills

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Denzel R. Washington brings passion and contagious energy into everything he touches – and has benefited both personally and professionally from it. He has spent the last six years in the field of marketing and e-commerce across a variety of different roles and industry segments. In recent years, he was thrilled to learn about shopper marketing and how to influence from the retailer perspective. As a part of his work mantra, he continuously looks for ways to grow his skills to limit complacency and will always push for innovation, noting that it is the future.

How have your job responsibilities changed since the beginning of the pandemic? Have you picked up any skill sets?

Washington: With e-commerce growing fivefold as an outcome of the pandemic, we had to shift how we approached the marketing mix in our campaigns to be present where shoppers were purchasing. We did this by showing up online and in homes with direct-to-consumer sampling experiences versus traditional in-store levers. Also, from a new skill set perspective, I’ve learned how to become more agile and responsive. We have to move quickly and boldly to ensure we’re able to keep up with changing demands and societal mindsets.

What are your proudest achievements so far this year?

Washington: One of my proudest achievements this year has been executing gaming at Walmart with our Totino’s brand. We started with working with our agency, Shopperworks, to develop a Walmart gamer strategy. This led to a new approach with our national “Call of Duty” execution, creating an extension campaign titled “Totino’s Power Squad.” The goal was to capitalize on the seven- to 10-year new console release phenomenon with gamers through the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, showing Totino’s as the hottest power in gaming.

As a second part of that strategy, which focuses heavily on overcoming the hurdles of gaming with mom, we were able to create an exclusive partnership in the spring at Walmart. This tapped into her nostalgia of Nintendo and Mario as a kid, pushing her to become the game night hero across a three-and-a-half-month campaign and keep fun in the household despite COVID-19 fatigue. We were able to partner with our merchants to unlock multiple months of display in-store. We reached a different aisle digitally within the video game category to receive site placements to support our Totino’s brand strategy of being the official snack of gaming.

What’s the biggest opportunity your team has faced during this pandemic?

Washington: It was our approach to holiday. Historically, a lot of our holiday affinity brands have separate campaigns and limited budgets. So we decided to create something magical by creating a new event, “Make it Home,” to drive efficiency and unleash scale of our massive portfolio at Walmart. This was a challenge because it was a new way of thinking. We had to get many internal and external stakeholders on board with our new omnichannel approach in unfamiliar territory, especially with converging conflicting objectives into one. We had to trust our insights and guts since holiday last year was going to mean something different, with travel concerns and families not being able to gather normally. We wanted to ensure shoppers could make it home for the holidays, no matter where they were digitally or physically, while showing how that fulfillment can happen exclusively at Walmart.

What is the future of shopper marketing?

Washington: With the rise of retailer media and demand for exclusive retail experiences from merchants, shopper marketing is going to become more important than ever. Driving brand equity into retail execution is becoming commonplace and integrated across CPGs.